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Tik-Tok of Oz

17. A Tragic Transformation
"Don't let us worry," said Shaggy to his companions, "for it may take the Queen some
time to conquer the Metal Monarch, as Tik-Tok has to do everything in his slow,
mechanical way."
"Do you suppose they are likely to fail?" asked the Rose Princess.
"I do, indeed," replied Shaggy. "This Nome King is really a powerful fellow and has a
legion of nomes to assist him, whereas our bold Queen commands a Clockwork Man and
a band of faint- hearted officers."
"She ought to have let Quox do the conquering," said Polychrome, dancing lightly upon a
point of rock and fluttering her beautiful draperies. "But perhaps the dragon was wise to
let her go first, for when she fails to conquer Ruggedo she may become more modest in
her ambitions."
"Where is the dragon now?" inquired Ozga.
"Up there on the rocks," replied Files. "Look, my dear; you may see him from here. He
said he would take a little nap while we were mixing up with Ruggedo, and he added that
after we had gotten into trouble he would wake up and conquer the Nome King in a jiffy,
as his master the Jinjin has ordered him to do."
"Quox means well," said Shaggy, "but I do not think we shall need his services; for just
as soon as I am satisfied that Queen Ann and her army have failed to conquer Ruggedo, I
shall enter the caverns and show the King my Love Magnet. That he cannot resist;
therefore the conquest will be made with ease."
This speech of Shaggy Man's was overheard by the Long-Eared Hearer, who was at that
moment standing by Ruggedo's side. For when the King and Guph had recovered from
Hank's kick and had picked themselves up, their first act was to turn Tik-Tok on his back
and put a heavy diamond on top of him, so that he could not get up again. Then they
carefully put his gun in a corner of the cavern and the King sent Guph to fetch the Long-
Eared Hearer.
The Hearer was still angry at Ruggedo for breaking his ear, but he acknowledged the
Nome King to be his master and was ready to obey his commands. Therefore he repeated
Shaggy's speech to the King, who at once realized that his Kingdom was in grave danger.
For Ruggedo knew of the Love Magnet and its powers and was horrified at the thought
that Shaggy might show him the magic talisman and turn all the hatred in his heart into
love. Ruggedo was proud of his hatred and abhorred love of any sort.
"Really," said he, "I'd rather he conquered and lose my wealth and my Kingdom than
gaze at that awful Love Magnet. What can I do to prevent the Shaggy Man from taking it
out of his pocket?"
Kaliko returned to the cavern in time to overhear this question, and being a loyal nome
and eager to serve his King, he answered by saying:
"If we can manage to bind the Shaggy Man's arms, tight to his body, he could not get the
Love Magnet out of his pocket."
 
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